UK: Royal Navy Sailors Demonstrate LGBT Pride

Royal Navy Sailors Demonstrate LGBT Pride

Royal Navy personnel donned their ceremonial uniform and proudly displayed their operational medals as they marched through the streets of the capital for London Pride.

Leading the Armed Forces contingent, the 22 sailors marched past the cheering crowds for the 42nd gay pride festivities – with Lieutenant Commander Douggie Ward, the Naval Service’s LGBT Forum Chair, at the head of the squadron.

Joined by the occasional high-spirited campaigner – including one dressed as Spiderman – the parade was a resounding success for the personnel involved.

Around 15,000 people joined the march and more than 500,000 watched from the sidelines as the rainbow flags and colourful costumes brightened up the streets.

Commodore Rupert Wallace CBE, the RN LGBT Diversity Champion was one of those attending with his wife to cheer on the Navy from the sidelines.

“We are delighted and proud that the Royal Navy values inclusion at all levels and that our people feel free and confident to be themselves – and that the Navy fully encourages them to do so,” he said.

Those marching at the annual event represented a wide cross section of units in the Naval Service, including the Royal Naval Reserve and this year there was also a ‘Straight Ally’, a heterosexual sailor who marched to show her support for LGBT military personnel.

Commander Chris New, the Head of Diversity and Inclusion Policy Team at Navy Command Headquarters in Portsmouth, said: “We can take great pride that the Naval Service is an employer that values and respects diversity, and it is right that we should demonstrate this to the wider population.”

The parade ended with the platoon paying respected to the war dead with a march past the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

The day before London Pride, the personnel attended the annual Quad Service LGBT conference at MOD Main Building in London. Quad includes the three Services and the civil service.

Attended by around 150 military and civilian personnel, the theme was ‘LGBT Staff on Deployment and Overseas Service – Implications?.’

The aim was to look at the various issues for individuals, units and policymakers when deploying personnel overseas, considered to be especially relevant with the drawdown from Afghanistan and the move towards smaller scale bespoke deployments where personnel are embedded with host nations and coalition partners.

The Royal Navy hosted this year’s conference which was opened by the Second Sea Lord Admiral David Steel. Other speakers included Stonewall CEO Ben Summerskill OBE, Chief of Defence Personnel (CDP) Lieutenant General Andrew Gregory CB.

Colleagues from Accenture and Hampshire Police provided a workshop on ‘Debunking the myth’ while other breakout sessions included unconscious bias training and a ‘have your say’ session where personnel had the opportunity to pose their questions and comments to members of the Equality and Diversity teams of each service.

The conference was closed with an emotive speech from Jacqui Gavin, an MOD civil servants who spoke on ‘A Trans-Eye View’, achieving the loudest applause of the day.

Commandant General Royal Marines, Major General Ed Davis added: “Respect for the rights, diversity and value of others lies at the heart of the Royal Marines’ personal and professional values.

“But to be able to respect, you first need to understand; and after this conference I now understand at least some of the realities of a being a member of the LGBT community. 

“It was a day very well spent. Thank you to the organisers for helping me to be a better inclusive leader.”

Press Release, July 5, 2013; Image: Royal Navy